Key Program Features
For almost 40 years, the LLM in Comparative Law has provided international law school graduates with the opportunity to design a program that specifically suits their academic interests and professional goals. The program offers candidates maximum flexibility in selecting courses from a contemporary and dynamic curriculum, and is ideal for attorneys, judges, professors, and other graduates of international law schools. USD was recently recognized as 1 of only 5 universities to receive NAFSA’s 2015 Senator Paul Simon Award for Campus Internationalization. The award is given annually to schools that are “making significant, well-planned, well-executed, and well-documented progress toward comprehensive internationalization.”
- Courses for this program may be selected from many subject areas, including Business and Corporate Law, Criminal Law, Environmental Law, Intellectual Property, International Law, and Taxation.
- Combining fundamental courses in U.S. Law with the opportunity to select from a broad variety of electives allows candidates to develop a highly personalized LLM program.
- Studying alongside JD and LLM students from the U.S. and around the world prepares LLM candidates to deal effectively with U.S. attorneys on questions of common interest, and to gain a comprehensive understanding of the law and policy in a wide array of subjects.
The School of Law is pleased to offer specialized Concentration areas within the LLM in Comparative Law. After enrolling in the LLM program, candidates have the option of pursuing a Concentration in one of the following areas: Business and Corporate Law, Criminal Law, Environmental and Energy Law, Intellectual Property, International Law, and Taxation.
These concentrations highlight curricular strengths, offering a selection of courses taught by leading scholars and expert practitioners. Students can work with the Assistant Director to help shape their education or enhance their career prospects by meeting the specific requirements for earning a Certificate of Concentration and corresponding transcript notation. Please be aware that the election or pursuit of a Concentration area does not afford registration priority. While pursuing one of the Concentrations listed above is an available option, LLM in Comparative Law candidates are not required to pursue a Concentration.
Specialized Support for International Attorneys
We recognize that studying law in the United States can present unique challenges for internationally educated attorneys. To assist our students with this transition, the School of Law offers:
- A special LLM student orientation program featuring an Introduction to U.S. Legal Education Workshop, which includes courses designed to provide international attorneys with the foundational skills needed to begin their study of law in the United States
- Special coverage of topics including “Sources of Law, Federal and State Court Structure and Stare Decisis,” “Anatomy of a Case: How to Read, Analyze and Brief a Case,” and “Demystifying the Socratic Method”
- Personalized, individual academic advising and course selection appointments with the Assistant Director
- Academic success services and language-based exam accommodations
- Students may begin the program in the Fall or Spring term.
- Full-time and part-time options are available (students with F-1 visas must attend full-time).
- Full-time students are expected to complete the program in 1 academic year. Part-time students may take up to 3 years. All foreign-educated attorneys on F-1 student visas are expected to complete the program in 1 year. A student's visa cannot be extended to provide additional time for the student to complete the program, absent compelling academic or medical reasons consistent with U.S. visa regulations.
- Many courses are offered in the day as well as evening.
- A candidate for this LLM degree must successfully complete 25 credit hours of appropriate coursework.
- Required courses comprise 4 of the 25 credits:
- Introduction to U.S. Law (2 credits): This course provides a comprehensive overview of the U.S. legal system and comparatively introduces approaches to law, lawyering, and legal processes.
- Legal Writing and Research for LLM in Comparative Law Candidates (2 credits): Students learn the research and writing techniques used by practicing U.S. attorneys, including training on both the Lexis and Westlaw electronic legal research systems.
- Two of the 25 credits must fulfill a written work requirement, which may be satisfied through successful completion of a designated written work course.
- Remaining credits may be chosen from our extensive upper-division elective offerings.
- Full details of the degree requirements may be found in the School of Law Academic Rules in the Student Handbook.
- General admission requirements (including class rank and English proficiency) can be found on our Application Checklist page (International Students tab).
English Language Requirement
- Applicants are required to establish English competency through successful completion of an English language test (TOEFL or IELTS) in the event that:  the applicant’s native language is not English, or  the applicant graduated from an international law school. The minimum required TOEFL score is 93 (583 paper-based), and the minimum required IELTS score is 7.0.
- Comparative Law candidates whose native language is not English, and who submit a TOEFL/IELTS score as part of their application materials, are eligible to receive extra time on examinations and the use of a translating dictionary.
- The minimum grade point average required for the LLM in Comparative Law is a 2.0, while the minimum grade point average required for all other LLM programs is a 2.5. This distinction was created as an accommodation for non-native English speakers and for those who have limited experience with the common law system.
Visa Information, LLM Tuition, Fees and Scholarships
- Please visit our Financial Aid page for tuition, fee and scholarship information
- If you require a student visa, please also visit our Visa and Financial Information page for further information
- Candidates work closely with the Assistant Director to design a program that fulfills not only the degree requirements, but also the attorney’s professional goals
- Our Career Services Office offers individualized career counseling appointments, as well as many other resources ranging from networking events to résumé writing workshops to information about specific job opportunities
- Students are invited to participate in internationally renowned job fairs designed specifically for international attorneys who are LLM candidates
- Alumni of this program are employed in numerous legal fields in the United States and around the world, including as judges, government officials, and attorneys working in business and corporate law, taxation law, commercial and banking law, and international law
- Student visa regulations permit LLM candidates to gain additional practical experience by completing “Optional Practical Training,” which allows students to find a placement with a U.S. law firm or agency for up to 12 months after finishing the degree
Bar Exam Information
- The LLM in Comparative Law is not designed to prepare international law school graduates to sit for a bar exam in the United States. Candidates who plan to take a U.S. bar exam should consider USD's Advanced Standing JD program for international students.
- Many graduates of the USD LLM in Comparative Law program have taken bar exams in the U.S. with successful results
- Information about the State Bar of California may be obtained at www.calbar.ca.gov. The State Bar of California requires that international LLM students be graded on the same grading scale as JD students, and the University of San Diego School of Law follows this practice
- For information about the New York Bar examination, please visit http://www.nybarexam.org/
- Information about the bar examination in other jurisdictions may be obtained by referring to individual state bar associations
- Please note that bar admission does not guarantee eligibility for employment in the U.S.